A Simple Jew has Questions & Answers With Bob Miller – Midwestern Derech Eretz. An Excerpt:
I found some remarkable articles on the Web by Professor Deborah Tannen that clarify some misunderstood aspects of New York City (and Jewish) interpersonal behavior (see here and here). The gist of this is that some aspects of NYC conversational style and general American conversational style (as in the Midwest) are so different as to cause major misunderstandings about intent, character, etc.
Reading this material, I began to understand certain things that have happened in my life as a displaced New Yorker who has lived many years in the Midwest and other places outside Greater New York. It told me that much of what we take to be an indicator of derech eretz or the lack of it has to do more with local mannerisms than intent.
That said, I have noticed areas where derech eretz really does seem better in the Midwest:
1. People say “Good Shabbos” even to Jews on the street who are not their friends, relatives, or teachers, and are not dressed in the same Shabbos uniform.
2. Store personnel are generally friendly to customers and vice versa.
Read the whole thing.
Boruch Horowitz on Chulent, The View from the Fringes, and Blogging.
How can the Orthodox world prevent the need for “cities of refuge”? True, there will always be rebels, but not every person who doesn’t neatly fit in is a rebel. Sometimes, we have to be more understanding when thinking about why people do not conform easily. Such people may be working bnei torah, older singles, or people struggling with issues of faith and doubt. If there is something that the Frum community can do to minimize the phenomenon, then we should be doing it.
Rabbi Noson Weisz on Jewish Reality Checks
Every time we read Ki Tisa, we are freshly overwhelmed by the sin of the Golden Calf. How could the Jewish people construct and serve an idol a mere forty days after having heard the commandment “You shall not recognize other gods in My presence” from God’s own mouth at the foot of Mt. Sinai? Apart from the enormity of the sin involved, the fact that it was intellectually possible for the Jews to believe that such an idol had any power is incomprehensible. How could such great people have made such a silly mistake?
But the question goes even deeper. How could any intelligent human being possibly bow down to a statue? What is idolatry any way, and why are there so many injunctions in the Torah against it?
The OU Passover Guide is available here.